Michalina Sujewicz, a Youtuber and former barista from Poland has become one of the few who was fortunate enough to be able to take a break from the customer service side of the coffee industry.
After sitting down with Michalina for the I’M NOT A BARISTA podcast, we were able to learn about her fifteen years in the hospitality industry as a barista and a coffee lover before, during, and after the bulk of the Covid pandemic. We also gathered some insight into her career as a Youtuber, a profession she began a year ago.
Although Michalina Sujewicz is initially from Poland, she has spent the past eight years in New Zealand. According to Michalina, New Zealand was never part of the plan. It was only after her partner and his best friend applied for a visa for New Zealand and got it that Michalina realized that her life was about to change. There seemed to be no rhyme nor reason in choosing New Zealand. Her partner and his friend applied on a whim and were stunned when they got approved. Michalina quickly applied for one afterward.
During her time in New Zealand, she fell in love with its beauty and its remoteness. She said,
“There are so many places that you can just go and stay there forever…so remote. There is no chance that you will run into another tourist.”
She specifically enjoys visiting Mount Cook Village because
“you’re totally by yourself surrounded by nature.”
Despite the beauty and the peace that she found within nature, Michalina did find herself longing to go back to Poland because New Zealand seemed to fall behind in regard to major advances, including within the coffee industry. Michalina admitted,
“The coffee industry evolves in Europe and bigger countries because…there are so many people traveling in and out. New Zealand is so far away that it doesn’t have this chance to change this quickly, and it’s not only within the coffee industry. I think New Zealand is…lacking in competition.”
And without competing companies, the pricing of goods will remain expensive. Although New Zealand provided the perfect escape from reality, it came with some setbacks. It is still changing, but at a much slower rate than the rest of the world. Despite high pricing on most goods, coffee in New Zealand is relatively cheap. When Michalina was a barista, she would have customers come in three times a day for coffee. It is less a special occasion and more of a step in a New Zealander’s daily routine. Whereas in Poland, it is more common to drink coffee at home.
However, even though people are more likely to purchase a cup of coffee than make one at home in New Zealand, the options within coffee shops in regard to specialty coffee are limited. When it comes to coffee, New Zealanders “don’t want to try new things.”
And even when Michalina was able to share different types of coffee, the New Zealanders were often disappointed because they had nothing else to compare it to besides the coffee they drank every single day. Even though Michalina found it challenging to share new ideas and beans in the coffee industry in New Zealand, she still loved the connections she made with the customers and was able to memorize their orders by heart since they never strayed from their usual. She even became friends with some of her regulars.
Eventually, Michalina had to put her barista career on hold for two reasons. The first reason was that she found herself to be rather unhappy in the hospitality industry. Michalina was looking for new jobs where she could utilize all the training and techniques she picked up in the coffee industry; she was searching for something more. The second reason was the fact that it was difficult to work once New Zealand went into lockdown during the Covid pandemic.
Michalina came to one conclusion. She said,
“I’m not getting any younger, you know, and working in hospitality is a full-time job…I’ve learned that I prefer to actually train people on coffee rather than working in the cafė all the time.”
Currently, Michalina is doing just that. She is expanding her knowledge about the coffee industry and then using that newfound knowledge to train others in the coffee industry.
When she is not training others, she is uploading videos on her Youtube channel called “Coffee that gives a puck,” which is meant for people beyond the coffee industry. Her overall angle on the channel is to increase awareness amongst everyday coffee drinkers. She wants them to have a greater understanding of what the industry entails, and how the processes need to change in order to aid farmers on their coffee plantations and prevent further climate change. Furthermore, she is hoping that
“people will look at baristas in a different light because there’s always a little bit of the stereotype that baristas treat their work in hospitality as something very temporary.”
She has discovered that many people, including the customers, believe that baristas don’t have skills or feel any passion for the job that they do, which is so far from the truth.
Despite the heaviness in Michalina’s angle, her channel is both educational and entertaining. On her channel, you can find videos ranging from mushroom coffee to choosing brewing equipment to the best coffee for sex, which involves specific coffee recipes.
Michalina hopes to upload more frequently and gain a greater following. And what better way to gain a following than by doing it all? From educating her followers on the sweetness, bitterness, acidity, and body of every coffee to recommending coffee for sex?
When Michalina is not working on her Youtube channel or educating others within the coffee world, she is practicing yoga. Funnily enough, she got into yoga thanks to a few of her coworkers when she was a barista. The coffee community is the gift that just keeps on giving. Before we had to end our lovely conversation, Michalina gave some advice to people within the hospitality industry. She said,
“If you have a certain passion and you want to evolve—no matter how hard the work is and how rude the customer you have to put up with is…you have to stay positive and invest in yourself…Sometimes, you just need to give life a chance to open some doors for you and if you’re open to it, try new things and take the risk…you will find your way and you will follow the path that you want.”
So take those risks. And if you need some coffee courage, subscribe to Michalina’s Youtube channel “Coffee that gives a puck,” and watch her take those risks herself. Perhaps, she will supply you with the courage that you have been searching for.